– Swarms of giant hornets have killed 42 people in Shaanxi Province and injured more than 1,600 in recent months, according to Xinhua, the official news agency. Government officials have yet to figure out why the attacks have been so widespread and so deadly.

Officials said Thursday that 206 people were being treated at hospitals and that emergency response teams were working to locate and destroy the nests of Asian giant hornets, the species involved in the attacks. Their venom is highly toxic and can cause shock and renal failure, experts say.

Hornet attacks have been reported in some other parts of China as well. Last month, a swarm attacked a primary school in the Guangxi autonomous region in southern China, injuring 30 people, including 23 children. But the most serious attacks, according to the state-run media, have taken place in rural areas near Ankang City, in the southeastern part of Shaanxi Province.

The brown and gold Asian giant, or Vespa mandarinia, is the world's largest hornet species. It can grow up to 2 inches long, and its stinger can extend nearly one-quarter of an inch.